Not Always So

Life is very tough right now.

It hasn’t always been that way. When it wasn’t, I didn’t know it. Of course I could tell you what the problems of the day were at the time, but I took a lot for granted.

Now it’s a matter of survival: food, housing, lights, water, transportation, medicine, even the health and safety of small children.

I took in my grandsons, and in turn, my son, after their life fell apart. So much has happened over the past few years to lead up to this moment…and this moment is tough. It’s also good…if I allow it to be.

I will explain.

Right now, I’m in a nice house with electricity, water, even cable tv and internet. There is some gas in my car, and yes, I have a car which at this moment, is being paid for by one of my sons. The house belongs to another son. I’m renting it from him but due to unforeseen circumstances, I haven’t been able to pay the rent to him in several months and I can’t afford to move. This is where the stress comes in. My entire life, at this point, is about my family. I work for my family’s business. My son and his kids live with me. My daughter’s dad lives here as does his mother. No one has a job except me. This stresses me out. The two grandsons are very demanding. This stresses me out. My son, while charming, has problems. I see progress in him, but not many others do. More stress.

So do I enjoy this moment in time while things appear to be fine…or do I dwell on the fact that my life is built on a house of cards and is going to come crashing down soon? Do I move forward in faith and deal with one card at a time as it begins to fail or do I worry myself until I’m sick and can’t sleep, feel depressed and cry all the time?

I’ll let you guess which one I do by default.

I am a photographer. A very good photographer. I have worked as a newspaper reporter for a long time, but right now I run a skateboard shop. I’ve been doing that for two years. I’ve approached someone for a business loan and I am on hold while he gets his ducks in a row.

In the meantime, most of my stress and problems surround money. I’m going to lose a storage garage that is storing many important items, including family photographs belonging to me and my mother…1,700 Little Golden Books that I collected, and a lot of other personal items. My electricity is going to be shut off soon. I don’t have enough gas money to make it to work all week. I can’t shop for school clothes or school supplies for my 9 year old daughter or my two young grandsons.

Our central air conditioning unit fan motor has been out for three months, forcing us to use window units that are running the electric bill up and not keeping us cool. We live in Florida where the humidity is near 90% and the heat index stays over 100 most days.

My daughter is in the Peace Corps, in Africa, and I cannot call her because I can’t afford it. I haven’t heard from her a week. I know she is fine, but we are close and talking is important to both of us.

My dad passed away in April. I miss him terribly.

We don’t have enough food and had to go to a food bank last week.

It was not always so. It will not always be.

But when a person is here, where I am now, it is indeed difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I only revealed those hardships to bring the reader current on where my discussion begins.

I thought my situation was somewhat unique…I know it is different for me. I’ve been through a lot in my life but I have never been 51 years old with this many responsibilities of so many people depending on me with this many challenges. I want nothing more than a guardian angel to anonymously send me a couple thousand dollars so I can get life back in order, up to a better standard and lower level of stress I have always been able to manage.

I have been hoping and believing the men in my house will step up and do what they should have done months ago. There is talk, but there is little or no action. The movement that does happen is in the form of an application for a job here or there or a phone call to ask if anyone knows of work…but pride gets in the way when it comes to flipping burgers and bringing money into the house to feed their children.

So I work a forty hour week. Grandma does the cooking and chips in to help with utilities. Life is a struggle and I am sorely disappointed that a relationship we were attempting to rekindle – my daughter’s dad and I – is not going to make it. I forgave him for terrible things that happened in the past, but lack of action for reasons I cannot begin to understand…that I cannot forgive. To allow us to go hungry or not be able to shop for school clothing or put gas in the car … I cannot forgive. So we will part company once I am on my feet again as I do not wish to put out another human being before he has truly had the time to care for himself. If the past is any indication, I already know the ending of this part of the story.

It is lonely, looking at prosperity and pretending to be part of it so that image is not tarnished and friends do not pity or judge. It is scary. I do find if I don’t allow everything to come at me at once, the dragon does not seem quite as fierce.

I know we all have our tough times. I will be grateful when mine is done.

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